Background: Lack of sleep has been associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality, but the mechanisms are not fully understood. Prior research has often been conducted in select populations and has not consistently adjusted for confounders, especially psychosocial factors.
Objective: The aims of this study were to assess the association between sleep habits and established risk factors for CVD and to evaluate potential interactions by race and gender.
Methods: Participants were part of a CVD screening and educational outreach program in New York City. Free-living men older than 40 years and women older than 50 years (n = 371, mean age = 60 years, 57% women, 60% racial/ethnic minorities) were systematically assessed for CVD risk (including traditional, lifestyle, and psychosocial risk factors) and completed a standardized questionnaire regarding sleep habits (including sleep duration and snoring). Lipids were analyzed by validated finger-stick technology. Stress at work and at home was assessed using a validated screening tool from the INTERHEART study. Associations between participants’ sleep habits and CVD risk factors/demographic factors were assessed using multivariable logistic regression.
Results: The proportion of participants who reported sleeping less than 6 hours per night on average was 28%, and 52% of participants reported snoring. Sleeping less than 6 hours per night was significantly (P < .05) associated with female gender, being single, increased stress at home, increased financial stress, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) level. Gender modified the association between sleep duration and LDL-C level (P = .04): Sleeping less than 6 hours per night was significantly associated with reduced LDL-C level among women and increased LDL-C level among men. Snoring was significantly associated with low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) level (<40 mg/dL for men/<50 mg/dL for women), being married, increased stress at work and at home, less than 30 minutes of exercise per day, less than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and being overweight/obese (body mass index ≥25 kg/m2). The association between snoring and low HDL-C level remained significant in logistic regression models adjusted for demographic confounders (odds ratio, 1.83; 95% confidence interval, 1.06–3.19) but not after adjustment for body mass index greater than 25 kg/m2.
Conclusions: Sleeping less than 6 hours per night was associated with several traditional and psychosocial CVD risk factors, and snoring was associated with low HDL-C level, likely mediated through overweight/obesity. These data may have significance for health care providers to identify individuals who may be at increased CVD risk based on sleep habits.